LIVINGSTON — The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) has drawn tepid response from Livingston Parish residents.
According to Mark Harrell, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Homland Security, only 112 residents have opted to apply for the program.
Anyone who flooded is eligible to apply. To date, zero awards have been made.
Those figures may be why the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security asked for an extension of the program to give applicants more time to decide whether or not they are interested. The new deadline is April 30.
The program pays for 75% of either pathway - which are acquisition or elevation - and the process takes up to a year to return a determination.
The application is taken by the Livingston homeland security office, sent to the state’s counterpart, and then forwarded to FEMA for a screening process and to provide a determination.
While few have applied for the program, many homeowners have taken it upon themselves to test the waters on the “elevation” ideal.
Acquisitions and elevations are available, elevation construction is dependent upon contractor and the original home's construction plan.
Many homeowners balk at the program due to initial costs of engineering, a report by whom is part of the application process, and then the cost of raising the house. Twenty-five percent of that bill has to be footed.
The main part of the program requires the downstairs of the home to be opened up so that water may pass through.
And then, the hammer drop - the program does not cover the reconstruction of the inside of the home. If you’re applying a second story to what was once a one-story home, they will bring the roof up, and the utilities, and seal the home.
At that point, costs for remodeling the inside are shouldered by the homeowner. That makes the program a tough sell for individuals who waited just long enough for their homes to dry out, and promptly put the inside back together.
Raising a post-flood remodeled home on pilings is an option, but is considered risky by local insurance agents who inform clients that the foundation - which will experience shifting on Louisiana soil due to lack of weight - will not be covered.
However, those thinking of building new homes, or might be interested in the program at a future date, need not worry. The HGMP has been extended, state homeland security officials say that hazard mitigation funds are available every year.
Denham Springs City Building Official Rick Foster recommends those considering building (or rebuilding) in flood plains ‘think hard about’ this home model or, at the least, apply for the HMGP.
Foster cited potential increases in flood insurance based around the current debate in Washington, D.C. regarding the National Flood Insurance Program and its costs.
Foster said rate increases could be centered around the difference between the base of the home and base flood elevation. Flood elevation certificates can be acquired via surveying companies for, roughly, $400.
McHugh David is publisher and editor of the News. He is also a real estate agent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow him on Twitter @mchughdavid41.